Don't want the COVID-19 vaccine? You could lose access to normal life, says U.K. minister
Shots voluntary, but restaurants and bars may not let you in without one, says Britain's vaccine minister
People who refuse a vaccine for COVID-19 could find normal life curtailed as restaurants, bars, cinemas and sports venues could block entry to those who don't have proof that they're inoculated, Britain's new vaccine minister said on Monday.
Several major COVID-19 vaccines have been announced in recent weeks, raising hopes that the world could soon return to some semblance of normality after the coronavirus killed 1.46 million people and wiped out a chunk of the global economy.
The British minister responsible for vaccine rollout, Nadhim Zahawi, said getting vaccinated should be voluntary but that Google, Facebook and Twitter should do more to fact-check opposing views of vaccines.
Asked if the U.K. would introduce an immunity passport, Zahawi said a person's COVID-19 vaccine status might be included in a phone app, similar to the Test and Trace app used by the National Health Service, that would inform local doctors of a person's status.
"I think you'd probably find that restaurants and bars and cinemas and other venues, sports venues, will probably also use that system as they've done with the [Test and Trace] app," he said.
"The sort of pressure will come both ways: from service providers — who will say 'look, demonstrate to us that you have been vaccinated' — but also, we will make the technology as easy and accessible as possible."
Health authorities in many countries have become increasingly concerned in recent years by the growth of anti-vaccine groups, which are especially active on social media.
Zahawi declined to give any specific date for a vaccine rollout as none have yet been approved for public use.
The message, he said, should be that a vaccine is good for the community and the country.